Officials want to improve barbecue

Published 11:09 am Thursday, February 22, 2007

All world champion barbecue cooks end up in Memphis, but a group of locals are hoping Vidalia will become a stop along the way.

Since 2003, Vidalia’s annual Jim Bowie Festival has been home to the Louisiana barbecue contest, sending a state winner on to worlds in May.

But the Bowie organizers want to make the Vidalia cook-off the best it can be.

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Six locals attended the Memphis in May Conference this weekend to ramp up their barbecue contest hosting skills.

Chamber of Commerce Director Kathy Nunnery said the group wanted to learn more about the Memphis cook-off, part of the annual music and food festival, Memphis in May.

“We wanted to learn more about how the judges judge the teams, and what we needed to do to make it better for the teams that come,” Nunnery said.

The Vidalia group received praise on their existing cook-off site — the River View RV Park.

“They said we had an excellent site at the RV park because we provide concrete pads, water and electricity,” Nunnery said. “Some places are on dirt and dust.”

The Vidalia contingent also attended an organizers meeting with festival organizers from New York and Indiana.

A Jim Bowie Committee will be forming in the next few weeks to review the barbecue and make changes, Nunnery said.

“We are getting excited about this year’s barbecue,” she said. “We just wanted to learn more about what we were doing. We just felt like we did not know everything.”

Others attending the conference were Josh and Amanda Wilson, Finley and Regina Hootsell and Jan Simpson.

Last year’s Vidalia barbecue cook-off had 13 teams — mainly from out-of-town.

Nunnery said the group wants to advertise more in a wider area and hopefully attract more participants.

The festival includes a Friday night cook-off for amateurs and a Saturday event for the professionals.

The Bowie Festival and the barbecue event will be Sept. 28-29 this year.